“There are 86,400 seconds in a day, but this means nothing to you if you don’t know how to use it. Make it count!” – Joel Brown
The term time management is a misleading term. You cannot manage time; you manage the events in your life in relation to time. You may often wish for more time, but you only get 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds each day. How you use that time depends on skills learned through self-analysis, planning, evaluation, and self-control. The art of time management is the coordination of tasks and activities to maximise the effectiveness of an individual’s efforts. Essentially, time management is enabling people to get more, and better work is done in less time.
To get ahead in your career, deliver your projects successfully and to get a promotion or a pay rise, you must learn to consistently focus on the activities that add the most benefit to your projects and your clients. The better you are at maintaining focus and managing your time, the more you will achieve, and the easier it will be for you to leave the office on time. Not only does effective time management skills allow you to get better results at work, but it also helps you withstand stress and live a more fulfilling life outside of work.
Much like money, time is both valuable and limited: it must be protected, used wisely, and budgeted. Finding a time management strategy that works best for you depends on your personality, ability to self-motivate and level of self-discipline. By incorporating some, or all the five strategies below, you can more effectively manage your time.
Start your day with a clear focus.
The first work-related activity of your day should be to determine what you want to achieve that day and what you absolutely must accomplish. Come clear on this purpose before you check your email and start responding to queries and resolve issues. Setting a clear focus for your day might require as little as five minutes but can save you several hours of wasted time and effort.
Know how you spend your time.
Keeping a time log is a helpful way to determine how you are using your time. Start by recording what you are doing for 15-minute intervals for a week or two. Evaluate the results. Ask if you did everything that was needed; determine which tasks require the most time; determine the time of day when you are most productive and analyze where most of your time is devoted — job, family, personal, recreation, etc.
Identifying your most time-consuming tasks and determining whether you are investing your time in the most important activities can help you to decide a course of action. In addition, having a good sense of the amount of time required for routine tasks can help you be more realistic in planning and estimating how much time is available for other activities.
Have a dynamic task list.
Capture the tasks and activities you must do on a list and update it regularly during the day. Revisit this list frequently and add new items as soon as they appear. Make sure your list gives you a quick overview of everything that is urgent and important. Remember to include strategic and relationship-building activities as well as operational tasks.
If you have difficulties staying focused or tend to procrastinate, you may benefit from creating an external commitment for yourself. For instance, schedule a meeting in two days’ time where you’ll be presenting your work and by which time your actions will have to be completed. It’s also very effective to complete the most unpleasant tasks early in the day and to allow yourself small rewards once you’ve completed them.
Review your day.
Spend 5-10 minutes reviewing your task list, before you end your day. Give yourself a pat on the back if you achieved what you wanted. If you think the day’s effort fell short, decide what you’ll do differently tomorrow in order to accomplish what you need to. End the day in high spirits determined to pick up the thread the next day.
Every minute is precious, don’t waste it doing something that isn’t adding any value to your life. Give these essential time management strategies a concerted effort, and you’ll find your days and projects running much more smoothly.
ABL Recruitment team